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Art & Life with Debra Claffey

Today we’d like to introduce you to Debra Claffey.

Debra, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I started a bit late, going back to college and the Museum School in Boston in my late twenties. I was looking to change my life and deciding whether it would be in art or music. I chose art and have been painting ever since. While I love ceramics and printmaking, it is painting that gets me up in the morning. I have supported the ‘habit’ and ‘paid the rent’ with a plethora of free-lance work over many, many years. After working with several landscape designers and wanting to get outdoors and out from behind a desk, I started a garden maintenance company, Artful Gardener Professional Garden Care in 2001 and went to the University of New Hampshire’s Thompson School for an Associate’s Degree in Horticultural Technology. For the past 17 years, I managed the gardening for three seasons each year and worked in my studio full-time each winter. Two years ago, I sold part of the business so that I could be in the studio full-time and manage gardens part-time.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
My current work is about our relationship to the natural world. My paintings with drawing, in oil, wax, and mixed media, of plants and their foliage interspersed with objects of “still life”, celebrate the complexity of the natural world and our place in it. I work with plants every day and have come to believe that plants and trees are intelligent beings that we have disrespected in so many ways, and we must reconnect. Our roots are in the earth, amid the myriad forms of life in the soil, in the wind, and in the seas. Painting is the best way I can express that passion. I hope viewers will find common ground in that, perhaps even be inspired to learn about plants, and then thank them for all that they do for us.

In your view, what is the biggest issue artists have to deal with?
I see many challenges–some are practical, some are political, and some are emotional.
How to balance time:
How to sustain a creative life financially.
How to balance a creative life with family.
How to have work understood that requires some stillness in a world filled with incessant activity and noise
How to be relevant to the culture at large when your values may be different.

I would say that financial stability is the biggest challenge since you can’t continue to do your work without resolving the income issue.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?

  • The Fifth National Monoprint/Monotype Juried Exhibition at the Art Complex in Duxbury, Mass. through September 2, 2018
  • Text and Textiles, Portsmouth Public Library, Portsmouth, N.H., June 25-July 30, 2018
  • Elemental: Contemporary Encaustic, The Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts, Springfield, Mass., July 17, 2018–July 14, 2019

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Debra Claffey

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  1. Jeanne Borofsky

    July 6, 2018 at 12:16 pm

    Wonderful article about a wonderful artist, person and friend!

  2. Judith Cooper

    April 14, 2019 at 5:18 pm

    I agree, Jeanne! AND I just met Debra yesterday @ Gallery Twist! Enjoying looking at her work & using it in a power point for one of my workshop groups! Thank YOU!

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